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Holy Trinity’s Julia Szymanska takes state federation tennis title

Calista Sha, pictured, and Morgan Wilkins of Friends

Calista Sha, pictured, and Morgan Wilkins of Friends Academy defeated Megan and Catherine Gamble from Webster during the NYSPHSAA girls tennis doubles quarterfinals at Sound Shore Indoor Tennis Center in Port Chester on Oct. 30, 2016. Photo Credit: Patrick E. McCarthy

PORT CHESTER — Julia Szymanska already had defeated the best the CHSAA had to offer on Oct. 19.

Monday, Holy Trinity’s CHSAA champion took down the top public school and PSAL player as well. Szymanska defeated Yorktown’s Caitlin Ferrante, 7-6 (4), 2-6, 6-3, to claim the state federation girls tennis championship at Sound Shore Indoor Tennis.

“It was a really tough tournament and those girls are really good,” Szymanska said. “I was confused with the draw and who I’d have to play — but I definitely like it now.”

Szymanska is the first federation champion under the new format. In the previous setup, the top three CHSAA players were invited to the tournament and placed in the bracket with the NYSPHSAA competitors. This year the CHSAA and PSAL singles and doubles champions competed against each other before playing the NYSPHSAA champions for the federation title.

Szymanska defeated PSAL representative Daniela Hernandez of Cardozo, 6-3, 6-1, in her first match.

“It’s still hard for me to get that I won,” Szymanska said. “Hopefully, after I sleep on it, tomorrow it will feel real.”

After a pair of three-set matches this weekend, Calista Sha and Morgan Wilkins of Friends Academy probably could use a good night’s rest.

A day after facing three match points in their doubles quarterfinal match, the Friends duo found themselves one point away from elimination in the NYSPHSAA final.

They rallied from a 5-2 second-set deficit, survived a match point at 5-4, and gritted their way to the title with a 1-6, 7-5, 6-4 victory over Vanessa Ciano and Laina Campos of New Rochelle-Ursuline.

“[The quarterfinal experience] may have helped a little but I still think every match is different,” Wilkins said. “You still get really anxious because you don’t know what’s going to happen but it’s really important to stay calm and stay positive.”

Wilkins and Sha are the third straight Nassau team to win the NYSPHSAA championship.

“We never pictured we’d be here today,” Wilkins said. “Definitely not.”

Although the pair dropped their federation final, 7-5, 6-4, to Sofie Levine and Christina Huynh of Bronx Science, they still helped put Friends Academy on the tennis map.

“Friends hasn’t been the strongest tennis team but it’s crazy that we won,” Sha said.

“This means everything, especially being a senior,” Wilkins added. “Being able to do this for my coach and my teammates really means a lot.”

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